5 Tips on Taking Medication Safely and Effectively

lheller February 2nd, 2012, 10:56 AM
Lisa Heller-Salmon
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1) Always fill your prescriptions at the same pharmacy! Make the pharmacist is your best friend! This is a great resource that most people don’t use nearly enough. Every time you add a medication, discontinue or change a dose have the pharmacy print you a list of all of your current medications and doses.

2) Carry that medication list with you at all times. Many times people are prescribed the same medication from two doctors. Be aware that the same medication can have two names, a brand name and a generic name causing you to take an overdose or double dose. Ensure that every doctor, emergency department, and pharmacist that you visit has the complete list of medications you are taking. Don’t forget over the counter medications, pain relievers, sleep aids, laxatives, stool softeners, vitamins and herbal remedies. All the over the counter medications can potentially have interactions with the prescribed medications so make sure to keep everyone informed so you can avoid problems.

3) Buy a medication box and fill it for a week at a time. This will help you to remember to take the medication. Make sure the medication does not need to be stored in the original container.

4) If you experience any side effects notify your doctor. Many people who are on multiple medications especially as we get older experience changes in the way our bodies process them. Write down any changes, for example, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, unusual fatigue or sleeplessness and bring the list to your doctor. Many people experience falls (especially elderly) as a result of multiple medications and their side effects. Sometimes dose adjustments need to be made.

5) Communicate with your doctor if you are not getting the intended effect from the medication. For example, if the medication is prescribed to decrease blood pressure buy an electronic blood pressure cuff and keep a daily log of blood pressure, if the medication is for pain take note if the pain is decreasing and if the medication requires blood work ensure that you follow up timely.

Navigating the health care system is quite complicated and I hope that you will take this information to empower you to be the owner of your wellness. Be informed as to what your medications are for, how to properly take them (how many times per day, with or without food etc.) and how you are responding to them. For more information go to Tips for Taking Medicine on vnsny.org.



  • I’d always had a problem with taking my meds on time until I found MedDose a free mobile application on android. Really good app, helps me keep on track with my meds. I haven’t missed a dose since I started using this app

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